Why You Need to Know Your Core Values in a Relationship

Feet on bench with viewWe just finished giving a workshop on transforming your relationships, and one of the areas we discussed was core values – what they are and what impact they have on our relationships. We were surprised to find out how many people had never really thought about what theirs were or looked at what those values meant in terms of their relationships.

Core values are the meanings and values, the deep-seated feelings and morals that we all base our lives on. They are not intellectual concepts, but rather the internal compass points that supply the foundation of our actions and decisions.

They are not easily seen for several reasons. One is that they are deeply felt, and we need to be in touch with our feelings to be able to articulate them. We are also very prone to adopt values from society at large without examining them to see if we agree.

It is very important that your core values match in your relationships, particularly with your life partners. When core values match, then most other areas of difference are just preferences and can be discussed and worked out, even ignored.

Core values are the meanings and values that we base our lives on #quote #relationships Click To TweetWe supplied the group with a list of 30 core values as a sample, having them pick 5 and add any they had that weren’t on the list. A lot of questions ensued after the exercise. Several people asked whether all one’s core values have to match to have the type of peaceful relationships we are writing about and promoting. This is a very good question as it relates directly to being able to fully accept your partner.

The answer has to do with your deal-breakers. These are the core values that are at the very basis of what is dearest and most important to you. These are the areas where, if yours don’t match with your partner’s, there will always be situations that you cannot accept, resulting in issues that cause anger, dissonance and distance.

You may decide that you are willing to accept those circumstances and that what you get from the relationship makes up for those areas of argument and separation. The kind of relationships that we describe, where a conflict-free peaceful togetherness is created, will not thrive in that climate.

If you desire a peaceful, loving relationship then, before you can take a true look at this issue and make honest assessments of your compatibility with another, you will need to get to know yourself in terms of your core values and meanings. You will need to really reach down inside and see what is deeply important to you. You will need to face truthfully what your deal-breakers are, what things must match in order for you to be with someone on an intimate basis where you can reach a place of true peace together.

Even after you know what yours are, you have to find out what your partner’s are. That takes time, as core values manifest themselves not only in what people say but in how they behave. For instance, they may claim to treat all people equally but make a habit of berating waiters. You have to know someone for a while and see how they act in a variety of circumstances before you can judge whether they hold the same values that you do.

This can be wonderful work. Whether you are in an intimate relationship, just creating one, or not even looking for one, the work of getting in touch with your core values, and which ones are deal-breakers for you, is an enriching and enlightening process. It is, literally, coming to know yourself.


Photo credit: Maude Mayes

3 comments on “Why You Need to Know Your Core Values in a Relationship
  1. iris says:

    Yes! In the time of “trump” it is clear we are not all coming from the same place or motivated by the same values. This is a time when I find it easy to get ruffled up by what clearly goes against my deepest values. These days finding common ground and core values that we agree on has become even more important than ever before. How can I remain centered and not get angered by polarizing viewpoints based on deep inner values? In the most challenging times, differences more than likenesses are profound. I am encouraged to continue to look for common ground while treasuring the peace I feel when we strengthen shared core values, walking alongside eachother.

    • Phil says:

      I think the question of conservative vs. liberal core values is fascinating. One difference is hierarchy vs. equality. Conservatives find the concept of equality to be an insult to the concept of individuality and personal responsibility. (Someone pointed out recently that the Declaration of Independence starts out “all men are created equal” but later mentions “merciless Indian Savages,” so its view of equality is flawed. Not to mention the 3/5 thing.) I find there are arguments to be made against both ends of the spectrum. Likewise, another difference is the spectrum of individuality vs. community.

      I think that the positions we take on these scales are emotional more than rational, and who am I to say which point is the “right” one, especially when I hold that all people have equal rights?

      I don’t mean to turn these comments into a political discussion, but rather ask how we can have compassion for everyone whatever their political viewpoint.

  2. Maude says:

    Gail Brenner
    This is so clear! Very timely for me.
    Much love…

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